Northern Europe is the northern part of the European continent. Most people see the following states as part of it:
- The Nordic countries, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, as well as Åland, the Faroe Islands and occasionally Karelia and the Kola Peninsula.
- Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (but see also Western Europe)
- The Baltic states, i.e. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
- Areas bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, e.g. north-western Russia, northern Poland (most often referred to as Eastern Europe), the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and northern Germany.
Europe, the planet's 6th largest continent, includes 47 countries and assorted dependencies, islands and territories.
Before the 19th century, the term 'Nordic' or 'Northern' was commonly used to mean Northern Europe in a sense that included the Nordic countries, European Russia, the Baltic countries (at that time Livonia and Courland) and Greenland.
In earlier eras, when Europe was dominated by the Mediterranean region (i.e. the Roman Empire), everything not near this sea was termed Northern Europe, including Germany, the Low Countries, and Austria. In medieval times, the term (Ultima) Thule was used to mean a semi-mythical place in the extreme northern reaches of the continent.
In a European Union context, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are officially seen as belonging to a Northern group.